Forza Horizon 2: Storm Island (DLC) – Xbox One
Platform: Xbox One (Xbox Live)
Release Date (NA): December 16th, 2014
Developers: Playground Games, Turn 10
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10
During the last couple of weeks, I’ve spent almost every spare moment engrossed in Forza Horizon 2. Even with around 36 hours of game time logged, I’m still only at about 52% completion, and that’s with over 100 cars in my garage, 2,000+ miles in road trips, and lifetime earnings of nearly 12 million credits. Suffice to say, Forza Horizon 2 has plenty to offer on its own. But if you want a slice of something new to add to the experience, the Xbox Store is offering up Storm Island for $19.99. The price might be a little high at first glance, but this is more than simple DLC – Storm Island is a full-on expansion.
With the expansion installed, players can travel directly to “Storm Island” from the main map at any time between events. Upon arrival, the player is treated to a mini-version of the main game with a similar but slightly different structure. Players race using the same car classes in various championships, with the main difference being the terrain and environment. Forza Horizon 2 eschews race tracks for city streets and winding country roads, with a secondary emphasis on cross-country courses. Storm Island fully embraces off-roading, and the island is replete with bumpy dirt paths, mud drenched trails, and misty forests. Some of the largest jumps can be found here, a few with hang times upwards of 5 seconds, possibly more. In fact, the weather plays just as large of a role as the terrain itself. For any Forza Horizon 2 fans drawn to the cross-country races, this is a must-have add-on.
Along with the 50 new roads to explore, a new Barn Find, special parts and equipment upgrades, a new set of courses, and a new exhaustive “finale circuit,” Storm Island comes with 6 new cars, all particularly suited to off-roading. It also changes up the courses a bit, throwing in the occasional man-made obstacles and introducing “cross-country circuits.” The climate adds considerably to the challenge. Many races happen at night, which hampers visibility even more than on the mainland. With very few lights on the island, it can be difficult to see anything beyond the reach of headlights. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the wind and rain are in full force at times, and to really amp it up, the fog rolls in occasionally reducing visibility to almost nil.
So how does it stack up? Storm Island is flawlessly integrated into the main game and the mechanics are identical. It’s a natural expansion that doesn’t take away or detract from the original while still establishing its own uniqueness. It’s still fundamentally Forza Horizon 2, so for casual fans, the $20 price tag might be a little steep. But for fans intent on completing the game or those obsessed with tearing through fields and dodging trees and spinning through mud, it’s the perfect addition. I particularly love how an entirely different look is established. The air is thick and wet, colors are muted and drab to reflect the overcast skies, and the fog looks great.
There aren’t any real downsides to Storm Island; price-wise it’s a little staggering when it comes to DLC, but there’s more than enough content. Still, I wish the area was a little bigger to provide a little more variety. It’s also noticeably more difficult. On the mainland, I’m generally able to compete with the Drivatar difficulty set to “Average,” though I found myself having to bump back to “New Racer” on the island and even then I struggled to place in the top 3 at times.
I also wish it was better suited to some of the game’s larger purchases like the Veyron or Veneno. There’s not much room for racing these ultimate machines on the island’s terrain. On the other hand, I do appreciate that it takes some time to focus on vehicles on the other side of the spectrum, I just wish I had some new ground on which to cut loose with the GT40 Mk II or the Agera. I can’t exactly tear through the forest at 226 mph with my Venom or glide over bumpy trails in the Zonda. No sir, you’ll be leaving the P1 and MC12 in the garage for the excursion.
But all in all, Storm Island is a success, and a decent value for the price. I wish this had included either the “Car Pack” or maybe the “VIP” membership; the Car Pack (something like 5 or 6 new cars a month for 6 months) is another $19.99, and the VIP package, which includes even more cars (and some other exclusive online functionality) is an additional $24.99. On top of the game’s purchase price (which I think has settled down to $39.99 at this point), it’s a costly ordeal to get the most out of Forza Horizon 2. But if you’re willing to throw at least one $20 at the game for what you saved on the retail price, and don’t know which to choose, Storm Island will definitely give you the most bang for your buck.
Reviewed by The Cubist
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